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Endgames: Military Response to Protest in Arab Autocracies, Hicham Bou Nassif

Reviewed by Yezid Sayigh

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The study of civil-military relations in Arab countries was almost completely stagnant for the 40 years preceding the Arab Spring, but it has witnessed a partial revival since then. The political importance of Arab armed forces was already on the rise, but their (varied) responses to the popular uprisings of 2011 both determined the fate of incumbent rulers and accelerated the trend. A decade later, armed forces throughout the Arab world not only remain the linchpin for the survival of ruling elites, but have become central in defining state power and shaping national politics to a degree not visible since the heady days of multiple military coups d'état and interventions of the 1950s and 1960s. Paradoxically, however, the academic literature on Arab civil-military relations has yet to catch up in terms of geographical spread (the countries studied), scope (topics such as factional politics in the officer corps, sociological and ideological profiles of military personnel, military business activity), and disciplinary approaches. In the wider Middle East, study of the Turkish military is possibly as voluminous as of the entire Arab world, and that of its Israeli counterpart greater still, in depth as well as breadth.

Hicham Bou Nassif's book Endgames takes a significant step toward filling this lacuna, in part by addressing a central puzz

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